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How to start a career in advertising

November 7th, 2015

 In this blog piece, Creative Access alumnus, Olivia Crooks provides some useful tips on how to get your perfect role in advertising. Olivia interned at the advertising agency, BBH and now works at Grey London as an Account Executive.

How did I get my dream job?? Ermmmm…

imagesOkay, well first thing is first, trying to land a job in advertising is difficult and I know what most of you are thinking – tell me something I don’t know! But I say this because you need to give yourself a break and realise it is hard – full stop. I will try and tell you what I have done, with as much information as possible as well as tips (it used to bug me so much when people were really vague – I’ve been there!).

To give you a bit of background, I currently work at Grey London as an Account Executive on the GlaxoSmithKline Corporate account, in case you are wondering, like I was, as to what a corporate account is? It means you do not work with the daughter brands of a particular client, you help sculpt the image the mother brand (like Unilever is the mother brand of Axe/Lynx) in the public eye (Unilever –project Sunlight). I love working here, and not only because Thursday nights are free drinks nights! The atmosphere promotes what they call ‘open culture’ and is trying to change the way traditional advertising works to make the work better and the culture more inclusive.

Previously, the lovely people at Creative access helped me get placed at Bartle Bogle Hegarty as a HomeGrown Intern last year when I was on a voluntary year out from University: I spent 6 months there and worked within the Account Management, New Business and ZAG (their brand management agency) for the first three months and went on to spend the remainder of my time in the Production department working with Barclays, Virgin Media, Axe, Audi, British Airways and many more.

So what does an intern do and what is the difference between that and an actually job. As an intern, I had the luxury of really getting to grips with the culture of BBH and understand how an advertising agency operated (Client > Strategist process > Creative process > Production) because I got to choose what department I wanted to work within.

Tips for advertising:

  1. Think about what you want to do in University, I said think – not decide. This is really important, get experience and as much of it as possible – volunteer, work as a committee member in a society, banking internship- just do something! This is so you can decided what you like and don’t like, it is important to know this when you go into interviews, it will enable you to show why advertising it for you, probably because it plays to your strengths and interests.
  2.  Try and set up your own business venture. This is about differentiating yourself and it does not need to be anything extravagant, if you like taking pictures rent your services in the local community or wherever. Through this  you can start to understand how business works; finance, advertising and marketing, social media etc.
  3.  Have interests!! I cannot stress how important this is… Ad agencies want people that are interested in stuff. Aka do not fill your interest box on your C.V with reading and Microsoft suite!! Do you like going to Open Mic Nights and are fascinated by documentaries (like me) or do you like sky diving or collecting stamps. What is the purpose of this you say? From these interests you can explain what matters to you in interviews and make sure you tell in a story format!!
  4.  Make contacts!! Use Linkedin – it is your best friend; add people, add groups, like posts, follow influential people – create a network!!

Okay, thanks for reading and hopefully I will see you around Adland very soon,